“The Impeachment Agenda” [UPDATED]
[ed’s note: my response to Glenn Greenwald’s latest attempt to engage in easy, simplistic, disingenuous, and bold-stroked narrative fantasy is here; if Glenn’s post is what brought you here, please relegate your comments to the new thread.]
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“Russ Feingold reveals what many Democrats really want.” From the WSJ:
Republicans are denouncing Senator Russ Feingold’s proposal to “censure” President Bush for his warrantless wiretaps on al Qaeda, but we’d like to congratulate the Wisconsin Democrat on his candor. He’s had the courage to put on the table what Democrats are all but certain to do if they win either the House or Senate in November.
In fact, our guess is that censure would be the least of it. The real debate in Democratic circles would be whether to pass articles of impeachment. Whether such an inevitable attempt succeeds would depend on Mr. Bush’s approval rating, and especially on whether Democrats could use their subpoena power as committee chairs to conjure up something they could flog to a receptive media as an “impeachable” offense. But everyone should understand that censure and impeachment are important—and so far the only—parts of the left’s agenda for the next Congress.
And not just the loony left either, though it’s getting harder to distinguish them from the mainstream variety. Mr. Feingold is hardly some Internet crank. He’s a third-term Senator from a swing state who has all but announced his intention to run for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008. He was the first major Democrat to call for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq, and half his party was soon demanding the same.
As a legal matter, Mr. Feingold’s censure proposal is preposterous. The National Security Agency wiretaps were disclosed to Congressional leaders, including Democrats, from the start. The lead FISA court judges were also informed, and the Attorney General and Justice lawyers have monitored the wiretaps all along. Despite a media drumbeat about “illegal domestic eavesdropping,” Mr. Bush’s spirited defense of the program since news of it leaked has swung public opinion in support.
But as a political matter, the Wisconsin Senator knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows that anti-Bush pathology runs so deep among many Democrats that they really do think they’re living in some new dictatorship. Liberal journals solemnly debate impeachment, and political-action groups have formed to promote it. One of our leading left-wing newspapers recently compared Mr. Bush to J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon, as if there were even a speck of evidence that this White House is wiretapping its political enemies.
When the fever gets this hot in supposedly mainstream forums, Mr. Feingold is right to conclude that the facts behind any censure or impeachment motion won’t really matter. All that will count is the politics, which means it will come down to a question of votes in Congress. And several leading Democrats have already raised the “impeachment” card.
[…] everything that Mr. Bush has been accused of during the last five years, no matter how Orwellian or thoroughly refuted, will be trotted out again and used as impeachment fodder. And lest you think this could never happen, Judiciary is the House committee through which any formal impeachment resolution would be introduced and proceed. As the country heads toward 2008 and a Democratic nomination fight, John Kerry and Hillary Rodham Clinton would be hard-pressed to avoid going along with Mr. Feingold, Al Gore, and others feeding the bile of the censure/impeach brigades.
Which brings us back to Mr. Feingold’s public service in floating his “censure” gambit now. He’s doing voters a favor by telling them before November’s election just how Democrats intend to treat a wartime President if they take power.
Not only do they want to block his policies, they also plan to rebuke and embarrass him in front of the world and America’s enemies. And they want to do so not because there is a smidgen of evidence that he’s abused his office or lied under oath, but because they think he’s been too energetic in using his powers to defend America. By all means, let’s have this impeachment debate before the election, so voters can know what’s really at stake.
What to even add here? The move is afoot to annoint Feingold the de facto King of the Democratic base—a sure sign that truth is no longer even a consideration (Feingold, for those of you who don’t know, was not among those briefed about the NSA program, and so his “censure” proposal is based on…well, what? Glenn Greenwald’s lengthy, question-begging legal analyses?)
Who knows? But the sad fact is that with the help of an amenable and ideologically sympathetic press, such a purely partisan gambit could well come to pass—and America’s leadership in the war on terror will be severely undermined (until such time, that is, when the Democrats take back leadership, the fantasy goes, and they return us to those nuanced days of 9/10, when terrorism was fought with paper threats, impotent missile lobs, and the hopes that law enforcement techniques—and stalling—might prevent major disaster until a time when the blame could be placed on anything and everything (America’s past sins, its “racism” and “xenophobia,” its “imperial designs, et al) but a lack of determined leadership. In the meantime? Smoking bans and Twinkie taxes!)
The measure will succeed, too, in the only way it is intended to succeed—it will diminish the Bush presidency, it will attempt to roll us back into alignment with the impotent consensus builders at the UN, and it will provide us with a “defeat” many on the left believe we need in order to “humble” us.
Of course, the long-term effects will be quite disastrous—as they will bear out the prediction of our enemies that we as a country don’t have the will to stick together long enough to fight a determined enemy, particularly after 40-years of having our own western liberal cultural deconstructed, diminished, and demonized.
But then, today’s liberal-Democrats are nothing but opportunistic and increasingly reprehensible tin-plated Macchiavellians; to many of these people, rhetoric trumps truth; spin is paramount, and power is all.
Never before in my lifetime did I find it even remotely possible that our country could fight another civil war. But I’m beginning to think that a (non-violent) civil war is coming—and that, frankly, it needs to happen. How it transpires, I have no idea—though I suspect migration patterns and a strong move to re-affirm federalist principles could provide the groundwork.
Philosophically, we have lost our way. And we’d better find our way back to our founding principles, or—as powerful as we are—we are doomed to slip into nannystate socialism, while a feckless foreign policy permits radical Islam to spread across the globe like the cancer it is.